May Payne and Stefan Mahendra, have been crowned the victorious winners of Casio Music UK’s inaugural ‘Casio Sessions’ competition.
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The Casio Sessions
Taking place at the stylish Ninety-One Living Room jazz bar on Brick Lane, sixteen extremely talented singer-songwriters performed original compositions on the piano. The finalists played in front of judges and an energised live crowd, bidding to win the top prize – an award-winning, Casio PX-S7000 digital piano worth £2,249, and £500 cash.
The judges on the night, Neil Evans and Dan Henry of Casio Music UK and Mohamed A. Sawyer and Emmanuel Tchombe of Loop Music, were blown away by the performers, who applied to the competition after its launch in June by Casio Music and Loop Music.
After an incredibly hard decision, the top prize was split between May and Stefan – who each took home a PX-S7000 piano and the cash. 21-year-old May Payne from Dorset, whose sensitive, beautifully raw and emotion-lead music draws from an eclectic mix of RnB, Emo, and Folk, captivated the audience with her powerful and deeply personal piece called I Hate It When You Touch Me.
Soulful 28-year-old Stefan Mahendra, hailing from South East London, brought his wide range of technical ability and refined musical craft to the stage. Fusing influences of Marvin Gaye, D’Angelo and John Legend, Stefan stunned on the night, with an original composition called Orbit before performing an encore with Alright.
“It’s a huge honour to win the very first Casio Sessions! Thank you to Casio for the wonderful opportunity. To have the chance to play and be recognised for a song that is deeply personal to me was an unforgettable experience. It’s a great competition, with such a warm atmosphere between all the uniquely talented finalists.” May Payne.
“To be considered as a finalist in the first place is amazing, but then to win is a massive honour. I am so thankful to Casio for allowing me to showcase my original music and I’m incredibly excited about collaborating with them on future Casio projects. Congratulations to all the finalists! The talent on show was just mind-blowing.” Stefan Mahendra
Neil Evans, Head of Casio EMI, added; “A massive congratulations to May and Stefan. We’re absolutely thrilled to award them the prize money and a PX-S7000. We were blown away by their writing, technicality and authenticity. May connected with everyone in the room and Stefan had incredible vocal dexterity. We also witnessed sixteen phenomenal finalists, which shows the strength of talent out there and Casio Music will continue to support them. A huge, huge thank you to all of them.”
All sixteen live finalists will receive content captured from the Casio Sessions event including professional photography and videography of their performances. A full list of finalists can be found here.
The sixteen finalists all performed their original songs on a Casio PX-S7000, a multi-award winning digital piano that sets a new standard in digital pianos with a high specification, which includes a newly developed hybrid wooden hammer keyboard and a contemporary look. The ability to directly plug in a microphone and make use of the on-board vocal effects made this the ideal performance instrument for the finalists. For more information, head to casio.co.uk/emi.
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Words Mark Knight